Hydrocortisone for Itching

Topic Overview

Hydrocortisone cream, gel, or ointment is available without a prescription. It is commonly used to treat skin inflammation and itching.

Precautions

  • Carefully read and follow all label directions on the medicine bottle or box.
  • Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not use in the diaper area unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area on children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not continue to use the cream if there is no improvement after 48 hours.
  • Do not continue to use the cream longer than 4 to 5 days unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not use hydrocortisone cream on weeping, scraped, or infected skin.
  • Avoid getting the cream in the eyes.
  • Use very sparingly on facial rashes and on the back of the hands.

Dosage: Apply to the rash area 4 times a day. Rub the cream in well.

Side effects

  • Burning
  • Increased itching
  • Increase in rash
  • Skin infection

If side effects occur, stop using the cream. Call your doctor if treatment of the condition is still needed.

Credits

Current as of: October 31, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
Ellen K. Roh MD - Dermatology

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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